Revised plans for the Burgess Hill town centre redevelopment were exclusively revealed to the Middy this week.
The £65m regeneration of The Martlets is set to bring a mix of new leisure attractions, community facilities, retail units and restaurants to the town.
But this week, developer NewRiver revealed it had made some changes to the scheme.
Justin Thomas, director for NewRiver, said: “There has been a massive shift in the town centre retail sector and over the past five years, since this project came about, we have seen a huge growth in online retail.
“Retailers are now cutting back on floor space and there is no point in building empty shops.
“We had to go back to the drawing board to review what we should be building and we thought let’s make the space better – let’s create a better public experience within the shopping centre.”
Mr Thomas said the volume of retail space has been reduced in the revised plans, increasing leisure provision instead. “It all started with Hollywood Bowl really – which we are still in advanced discussions with,” he said.
“We realised we couldn’t just slot it in somewhere so we had to go back to the drawing board.
“We are now looking at having the bowling alley opposite the ten-screen cinema to create a real leisure experience, with nearby cafes and restaurants.
“It will be a public square and there will be space for community events and food markets – we couldn’t have had this before.”
He said the retail line-up was still the same, with New Look, Nandos and Next still on the cards.
Today (May 18), NewRiver is holding an open day at The Martlets shopping centre so residents can hear more about the revised plans and have any questions answered. It will be open 12noon-4pm at Unit 26, opposite the new library building.
Residents in the past have expressed their anger and frustration over the ‘delay’ of the scheme, but Mr Thomas insists the developer remains committed.
“I want to apologise if people have been frustrated,” he said, adding: “I know it is difficult to understand when people don’t see buildings being knocked down and things moving forward, but there has been lots going on in the background, and when they see the work we have done to keep this project on track on Saturday, they will understand why have not been able to give updates until now.”